Jay Wright? More like Jay Wrong. Hokies shock #3 Villanova.
The Virginia Tech Hokies are undefeated! Welcome back Virginia Tech Basketball Fans! We are back in Cassel for the first match up of the year; our Virginia Tech Hokies take on The Radford (not Tyrece) Highlanders. With Covid running rampant all across the world, it felt good to be back watching College Basketball.
It was a pleasure taking some time to chat with Mike James who is a top 100 prospect in the country within the 2021 class out of Orlando, FL. He is 6’6 with a ton of versatility with a long list of potential suitors across the NCAA (Louisville, Texas A&M, Cincinnati to name a few). As you can imagine landing a player of Mike’s caliber would be HUGE for the Virginia Tech program and would showed continued success on the recruiting front. That being said, let’s get to the interview. Thanks again for giving us the time Mike and wish you the best moving forward!
While coronavirus is taking over everything, including the (lack of) NCAA tournament, we’re not going to let it rob us of selection Sunday. First, a couple of notes:
- Virginia Tech’s tournament streak is still alive!
- Duke was the first team eliminated from the tournament
If you have been following us all year, we have been ranking the teams using the EVTB prediction model, with the goal of predicting the field. Last year we had great success. This year, we have nothing to compare to, but let’s play make believe to escape from quarantine cabin fever. Let’s go live to my living room to see the bracket!
|2||Florida State||Duke||Oregon||San Diego State|
|4||West Virginia||Kentucky||Wisconsin||Ohio State|
|8||Colorado||East Tenn State||Michigan||LSU|
|9||Northern Iowa||Texas Tech||Wichita State||UVA|
|11||Miss St/Richmond||Oklahoma||St. Mary’s||Florida|
|13||Stephen F. Austin||Akron||Memphis||New Mexico State|
|14||Vermont||Belmont||North Texas||North Dakota State|
|16||Robert Morris/NC Central||Northern Kentucky||Siena||Prairie View/Boston University|
The 1 Seeds: Clear, Noncontroversial and Two Mid-Majors
The 1 seeds this year are pretty clear, with just about every prediction agreeing on the four. Without the upsets of conference tournaments, there wasn’t an opportunity for this group to be broken up. It’s hard not to think that Dayton doesn’t feel a little robbed this year after getting a 1 seed.
The East: A Top Heavy Bracket with Upset Opportunities
With Dayton, best #2 seed Florida St and a deep #1-6 this is a top heavy bracket. However The likes of Cincinnati, Stephen F. Austin and Yale pose some serious upset threats! I’ll throw the ACC some love and proclaim Florida St. as the winner of this bracket, after Dayton tumbles against Villanova in the Sweet 16.
The South: Big Names and Some Rivalries
The south bracket looks pretty deep as well and presents some fan-favorite match-ups. Right away, the prospect of Kentucky v. Louisville will get any college fan excited. Big name at-large teams like USC, Texas Tech, Purdue and Oklahoma could mean some primetime match-ups at each round. Powerhouse programs of Baylor and Duke will face a hefty task to exit to the Final Four in this bracket. Riding a hot streak, we are moving Kentucky through from this bracket.
The Midwest: Easy Street for the Jayhawks
The weakest bracket of the bunch, the Midwest is lacking a big challenge for Kansas. The #2 seed Oregon is the weakest of the group, however the #3 seed Creighton could step up to the plate. This bracket has 12-5 upset written all over it, as Liberty advances for a second year in a row. Kansas dominates its way through this bracket, like it did most of the season, and awaits its first real challenge in the Final Four.
The West: Mid-Majors Take Over
The top 2 seeds are both mid-major powerhouses, joining the slew of smaller schools finding basketball success this year. Reigning (for another year now) champ UVA seems under seeded given its recent success, and ultimately knocks off #1 Gonzaga in round 2. However, the dream of a repeat flames out after falling to San Diego St. in the region final. It’s worth noting that Michigan St. continues its up-and-down season, with a big let down against a strong New Mexico St. squad. The last team to join our Final Four is San Diego St.
Who Wins 2020?
With a Final Four of #4 Kentucky, #2 Florida St., #1 Kansas and #2 San Diego State, winning it all will be a real challenge. Ultimately, Kansas wins the 2020 national championship (and has it vacated for NCAA violations 3 years from now). This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone following along all year, as Kansas sat on the top of the rankings since January.
Controversial Seeds and Snubs
If you compare to other brackets out there, there are some surprises here. First, let’s start with the snubs. In our ranking the teams just missing out are Stanford, Furman, Arizona St., and Minnesota. North Carolina St. was deserving of some love, but missing out on the chance to rack up another win or 2 in the ACC tournament cost the Wolfpack a spot. The teams we included that Bracketology didn’t are Northern Iowa (our model liked this team all year), Wichita St., Mississippi St., Purdue, Arkansas (fun fact, this team was #1 in our first 2 weeks of the season), and Memphis. Outside of Northern Iowa and Arkansas, the rest were all strong bubble candidates. It would have been fun to see which prediction was closer.
Once we finish debating who is in and out, seeding becomes the next debate. Right away, Oregon sticks out, as almost nowhere else has the Ducks on the 2 line. After that Utah St. has a strong showing in our bracket, but is much lower in other brackets. On the other hand, we have Providence much lower than others.
On the first day of the ACC tournament, the Hokies came in looking to end the season on a strong note, with hopes of advancing to the second round. The opponent in the way were the UNC Tar Heels, that the Hokies out survived in a double OT game earlier this season. Although UNC struggled all year, they have been hot since the return of star Cole Anthony. That theme stood for the entire game, with UNC likely ending the Hokie’s season. I am going to ask you to keep reading through the game recap, as we celebrate the team near the end.
Unfortunately, the recent trends of each team took hold in the first half. UNC jumped out to an early 17-7 lead, with the Hokies starting 5-20 from the field. Mike Young’s squad managed to close the gap to 21-18, but the Tar Heels battled back to yet another 10 point lead. Landers Nolley dug deep, reeling off 8 straight points to end the half, bringing the Hokies with in 6 with a 32-26 halftime score. The Hokie entered halftime feeling like they had a chance to continue the season.
The second half started with an all-too-familiar UNC run, expanding the lead to 39-26 right away. UNC out shot, out rebounded, out defended the Hokies all night, expanding their lead deep into double digits. I’ll be honest with all of our readers, I am writing this as the score stands at 53-36 with 10:07 remaining, and I don’t feel like talking more about this game. Instead I want to use this space to talk about the season and the bright future of the program.
Rewind to a year ago, we were all high on the success of the 2019, with legitimate tournament expectations. Hokie Nation was cruising. Come season end, the rug was pulled out from under our feet after the departure of Buzz Williams, graduations and transfers. The hire was of Mike Young wasn’t highly celebrated, and recruiting looked bleak. Fast-forward to November, and the young Hokies started the season with a bang, downing the Clemson Tigers on the road. Quickly thereafter, VT crushed basketball Goliath Michigan St. and we went from rebuilding to talking about the NCAA tournament. After dropping a couple games, the Hokies were back to a hot start to the ACC season. We saw the dominance of Landers Nolley, the development of Tyrece Radford into as genuine star, and the meteoric growth of Tik-Tok mogul, and sharpshooter, Jalen Cone.
Around mid-January, the wheels started to come off a little, but our players and fans never faltered. You could witness the passion or hear it on TV every night in Cassell. We all stuck with this team through the rough end to the season for good reason. We have an amazing roster led by the impeccable Mike Young. Anyone who watched this team this year knows to be beyond excited for 2020 season and beyond. We have a returning starting lineup, 4 freshman scoring 8 points per game or more, and some stud recruits on the way. So Hokie Nation, stand up, applaud our boys, and be ready to go hard for the squad next season as they take it up to the next level!
Using our EVTB predictive model, we calculated the odds of each team advancing through the ACC tournament. As you would expect, the teams with double bye are most likely to win, and teams playing today, like the Hokies, are hanging on by a thread.
Do you smell that? It’s not what The Rock is cookin’; it’s MARCH! We are in the last week of the regular season, with most teams having 1 game left. Next week starts conference tournaments, giving hope to Cinderellas for one last shot at dancing. This week’s top 25 will focus on the teams that are squarely into the dance. Next week, expect a conference tournament preview and a discussion of the bubble.
|Rank||School||EVTB Score||Eff Rank||SOS Rank||MOV Rank||Luck Rank|
|5||San Diego State||23.075||9||102||2||106|
Kansas’ stranglehold on the #1 spot continues, and the Jayhawks are going to be a number 1 seed, even with an early conference tournament loss. After that, the other #1 seeds get muddier. The field of potential 1s is not large though, consisting of Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor, Dayton, San Diego St and Florida St and Louisville. The shocking part of this list is the strong showing of 3 mid-major programs. If all three skate through conference tournaments, don’t rule out 3 mid-major #1 seeds. On the other side, a bad loss in conference play will derail and chance at a #1 or even #2 seed. As major programs go, a conference championship will slot any of these teams into a #1 seed. Notice how tight #8-20 are, meaning teams could easily jump around the 2 to 5 lines based on conference play.Please note, that these rankings will jump around a little as we give Power 5 a bump and conference champions a bump in seeding. That has not been done at all this season yet.
Hokies Continue to Learn in 2020 for a Bright 2021
Hokies closed out their home slate with an impressive win against the Clemson Tigers. In addition to celebrating Senior (singular) night, the Hokies locked the already closed door on the Tigers tournament chances. The Hokies ranking status improved slightly to #110 in the EVTB rankings, #82 in NET and #97 in Kenpom. If you have been under a rock, we are not a bubble team for once, but you never know what conference play can bring. Hokie Nation will be hoping for a miracle tournament run, or start looking forward to next season.
What Is The State of Postseason ACC?
Let’s start at the top, the ACC still has a shot at a #1 seed in Florida St and Louisville. I do think that it would require winning the conference tournament for that to happen. Despite their ranking, I am going to rule Duke out #1 contention after their last few games. Moving to the next level, UVA is in, probably in the 7-9 range. They have had an impressive finish to the season. I am capable of giving props when props are due, although they are a snoozefest to watch. Next, comes the bubble. The bubble consists of 3 teams; NC State, Syracuse and ND, with NC State being the most likely 5th team. Aside from winning their last regular season game (sorry ND), these teams will need to rack up at least 2 wins in the ACC tournament to have a decent shot. Don’t forget about a possible miracle run, because mathematically, every team is still alive in the tournament hunt.
|ACC Rank||Team||EVTB||EVTB Δ||AP||NET||Kenpom||Bracketology|
|5||NC State||66||0||–||59||55||Last 4 Out|
|Team||Eff Rank||SOS Rank||MOV Rank||Luck Rank|
Senior Night in Blacksburg, Virginia Tech had the 15-14 Hokies starting three Freshman and two Juniors. Clemson, winning four of their last five, two of those wins against highly ranked opponents came in desperate for another win to have a chance at an at-large bid within the NCAA Tournament. Clemson came out hot, making three of their first three pointers to get out to a nice 9-2 lead. The Hokies chipped and fought back to take a 10-9 lead with 14 minutes to go after a three from Isaiah Wilkins.
Clemson’s Alex “not to be confused with Ernset’ Hemenway, decided to whip up a short story within 39 seconds and drain two threes to get the Tigers back up 17-12. An uncharacteristic first 10 minutes for the Hokies, as they turned the ball over 5 times in that period. The Hokies went on a nice 10-2 run to get their largest lead of the night with 6:09 minutes to go after a nice made basket by TYRECE RADFOOOOOOORD (announcer voice). One thing that was incredibly impressive was the Hokie defense. After allowing 9 points in the first 92 seconds, the Hokies held the tigers to 16 points the rest of the half, as the Hokies lead 30-25! Mike Young had to have been excited about the way his defense played. The refs on the other hand need to understand that both teams are F***ing savages in the box and the refs are better than what they have shown. They have a second half to redeem themselves but so far they have had a shitty game.
Landers started off the second half with a nice three pointer to get the Hokies up to an eight point lead. Clemson scored 1/5th of their points within the first 140 seconds of the second half to get the Tigers within 4, at 34-30. The back and forth continued as Clemson retook the lead 35-34 after a three, but the Hokies came right down and made a shot by Tyrece Radford to retake the lead 36-35. Guess what happened next? Clemson came down, made a shot within the key to go up 37-36. GUESS WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?! P.J. Horne came down and sank a three to get up 39-37. Clemson comes down and sinks a three of their own 40-39. Hokies drive down and HORNE JAMS IT HOME BROTHER to get back up 41-40. There were 8 lead changes in less than 3 minutes of game play That was madness.
After a T.V. time out, Hunter ‘I hardly know her’ Cattoor came out and threw down a MONSTER JAM and a three pointer back to back to get up nine points with 11 minutes to go. The Hokies started to run away with it after another Jalen Cone three to put the Hokies up 54-42. A 13-0 run for the Hokies over four minutes to get a monster lead. The run ended by a free throw made by the Tigers. The Virginia Tech crowd roared as Cattoor, Wilkins and P.J. Horne made three point BOMBS to get up 63-47 with 7 minutes to go.
Tyrece Radford was sensational; going 7-8 from the field for the second most points on the team with 16. The Hokies leading scorer made me ask myself a question; is P.J. a trumpet? Cause I’m getting Horn-e watching those threes go in, capping Senior Night with a team high 17 points!
Hokies pop Clemson’s bubble, 70-58! Great season at home for the Hokies.
The non-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies traveled on the Lords day to take on the 11￼ ranked Louisville Cardinals. To put this bluntly, both teams did not get off to great starts, combining 0-8 from three before the Cardinals took a 5-2 lead 6 minutes into the game. Jalen Cone got the Hokies their first lead with his first three of the game 7 minutes into the game to get up 7-5. With 10 minutes gone in the first half, the Hokies had a 12-9 surprising lead with a nice dish from Nolley to Ojiako. The Cardinals said ‘NOT UP IN HERE’ and tied the game almost immediately with a three, 12-12. Louisville and Virginia Tech exchanged buckets back and forth, along with the lead going back and forth. The left handed assassin, Nahiem Alleyne decided to take over and make two threes within one minute to get he Hokies up to their biggest lead of the night, 20-16. Louisville utilized their size to get a bucket in the paint to get 20-18. Nahiem Alleyne wasn’t having any of it; comes down and hits another three to go up 23-18. The Cardinals were able to regain the lead by scoring 8 points off Hokie turnovers in the first half to go up 24-23 with less than 3 minutes to go. Virginia Tech rushed their offensive plays and missed a few opportunities, but to be tied at half time at 27-27 is something you would want going into the state of Kentucky. Both teams shot 40+% from the field in the first half, while the Hokies shot 33.3% from 3 while the Cardinals shot 20%.
Before the second half starts and I begin recapping that; did anybody else have questions about the Louisville mascot at half court? When did their bird learn how to tie shoes, let alone afford Adidas. His jersey was a football jersey, not even a basketball one. I was all kinds of confused. Now, back to the game.
Both teams missed their first shots to kick off the second half, but the Hokies took a lead 29-27 a little Tyrece Radford jump shot. When the Hokes move the ball around, they get opportunities for threes and BAH GAHD, THAT’S NAHIEM ALLEYNES MUSIC AGAIN AS HE BURIED ANOTHER THREE to get the Hokies up 32-29. Jordan Nwora tied the game with a free throw at 32-32 to get 1000 points for his Louisville career. As the Hokies went cold, Louisville got hot, making back to back field goals to take a four point lead, 38-34 with 14 minutes to go. The Hokies did not call a time out after a 9-0 run and Louisville just continued their flurry of domination in the second half getting up 10, 44-34. I’m not sure the Hokies even stood a chance once the cameras panned over to the Louisville fan with the WWE championship belt. The Hokies tried to inch closer, and hit a big three to get within with at 39-47, but the Cardinals would just come down and hit an easy two to get back up 10 with a little over ten minutes to go. Nolley, shooting 2-8 with 7 minutes to go, could not get it going tonight, and has been in a long slump for a while now. The aggressiveness is there, but his shot has not. Louisville continued to lay down the hammer and looked to cover that 12 point spread. Jalen Cone had an opportunity for a four point play, but missed the free throw. After that, the game got out of hand as Louisville took control, made multiple shots and thunderous dunks. On Senior Night, the Cardinals celebrated, defeating the Hokies, 68-52.
Another disappointing loss for the Hokies, means that I will be sad writing this column, but such has been life since mid January for us Hokie faithful. Let us turn our heads towards March, which can spark joy for any college basketball fan. Here is this week’s top 25.